As I am about three fourths of the way done with my next album and my studio is a mass of wires. I’ve become obsessed with syncing my old drum machines and analog synthesizers using various methods. I’m not looking for perfectly quantized MIDI. I’m looking for some Control Voltage madness. Last night’s experiment will definitely make it to a full song. I haven’t shared anything with you in a while with regards to my upcoming music but it’s time I start breaking the ice. The audio sample may not be your cup of tea but the method can be used to create all sorts of nonsense in many music styles.
I have an old Korg Rythm 55 drum machine. I go out of it’s Trig Out to a Doepfer Dark Time analog sequencer’s Click In. On the Korg you can set the sequencer to trigger in various times. If you select a 16th note you will get your typical Giorgio Moroder type of thing. This time I have it set to follow the Korg’s kick drum (blue arrow above). The Doepfer is hooked up to one of the oscillators on an Analogue Solutions Telemark synth (both pitch and filter). This time around I don’t want the Dark Time telling the synth to play different notes. I only want it to Trigger a very slight pitch change and that’s why (see the green arrow) I have the pitch line stop after the second step. The two steps are just slightly detuned. The filter does change open and closed over 8 steps (which you can only hear when the filter is partial closed at the beginning). If you notice there is a grey Midi cable plugged into the top of the Dark Time. If I wanted I could play different notes on my attached MIDI controller and the entire sequencing line would change pitch.
Hit play on the Korg and off we go. I turn up the filter, bring in the Korg’s snare and you have something from a different decade. To add to the whole vintage feel the Korg has some Boss DM-100 on it. You can hear when I hit the fills on the Korg the synth follows and it’s really magic. One last thing to note is if you look at the Analogue Solutions Telemark photo above you see that orange arrow? That points to the other oscillator that’s not being controlled by the Doepfer. Its another reason you hear a detuned sound. I can bring it and the noise knob in and out for great effect (or verse/chorus parts). Time to add the vocals.
“At its most basic, an analog sequencer is nothing but a bank of potentiometers and a “clock” that steps through these potentiometers one at a time and then cycles back to the beginning. The output of the sequencer is fed (as a control voltage and gate pulse) to a synthesizer. By “tuning” the potentiometers, a short repetitive rhythmic motif or riff can be set up.” – Wikipedia
Acidlab who already make great Roland TR-808 (Miami) and TB-303 (Bassline) clones is recreating those products in beautiful Eurorack modular form. As far as pro-audio gearlust these things rate high on the wow I want to touch them scale. You can read an interview I did with Klaus Suessmuth here. Klaus posted these photos and information over at the Muffwiggler forum (link).
“The newest products are FRAME with 84TE space, a 5-ch Mixer and the POW-Modul. 3HE Case is at 75 Euro; the Powermodul with powersupply is at 65 Euro. POW-modules’ performance is +12V/700mA und -12V/700mA. Another new products will follow in the near future: 6HE Case, 303VCO & M303 (303-module); the 808-Drumodule will need more time. -a V/Octave to V/Hz Converter (for Korg-CV & Metasonix) will follow, too!” – Klaus Suessmuth
Rob Ricketts from Birmingham has created some fantastic posters! Roland TR-808 drum machine patterns for Planet Rock, Cybrotron’s Clear (I love that song!), Voodoo Ray and Adonis’s No Way Back.
“A series of informative posters detailing how some of the most notable drum sequences were programmed using the Roland TR-808 Drum Machine. Each sequence has been analyzed and represented as to allow users to re-programme each sequence, key for key.” – robricketts.co.uk
Today I received my latest eBay purchase in the mail: a Suzuki Omnichord OM-84. Add a star to my hipster cred wall. Nevertheless I love the (analog) sound and playability of these instruments. There were a few variations and you can buy new digital models with MIDI called Qchords. If you have an iPad and you want some Omnichordness download the very good Polychord app (link). There’s a good blog that covers old Omnis here: omnichords.blogspot.com. Any of you Wire to the Ear readers own an Omnichord?
“The Omnichord is an electronic musical instrument, introduced in 1981 and manufactured by the Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation. It typically features a touch plate, and buttons for major, minor, and diminished chords. The most basic method of playing the instrument is to press the chord buttons and swipe the touch plate with a finger or guitar pick in imitation of strumming a stringed instrument.” – Wikipedia
Here’s a pretty boom clik NAMM announcement. Swedish company Clavia who makes the Nordlead keyboards has announced a new Nord Drum module. It’s red and, “…lets you create classic retro-futuristic percussion with analog waveforms or use the harmonically complex waveforms together with different colors of noise for results that both sound and respond stunningly organic.”. EBM bands around the world will be hiring drummer again soon.
“The Nord Drum is a revolutionary 4-channel drum synthesizer that is the result of a creative collaboration between Clavia and drum/music technology enthusiasts Bruniusson & Berg. With an amazingly vast sonic palette and an astounding level of playability it is guaranteed to change your perception of what’s possible with synthetic, sample-free percussion.”
I really like the Folktek hand made music machines. Besides some unique sounds they are perfect to put on show in music videos. If I had an extra few grand laying around I would consider the Drum Scape. Has any of you ever used or seen a Folktek instrument in person?
“When requesting a Drum Scape, you can expect something in the vein of the works you see here. Each is a little different but all hold true to the future antique asthetic and all have the same capabilities unless it’s obviously an expanded on version (such as the Midi Drum Scape” or the “Drum Scape Sequencer”).” – folktek.com
There are a growing number of sample/sample loop players on the iPad. RGBSOUND Pro is another albeit a pretty one which could find it’s place on stage or in an art show. I also found it interesting how by stoping/starting clips the loops launch at different times creating some nice Minimal style “get in your head” sequences. There is a free version for a limited time. I like it.
“By tapping the colors you play sounds and you launch infinite electronic loops, by shaking the device you change your music pattern.” – rgbsound.com
This is going to hurt my bank account ($2,000 USD). I really like how you can record real time effects on the two pad strips (link). I hope the included samples don’t ruin a near perfect analog thing. So far the demos sound pure enough for me. Anyone NOT getting one?
“The all-new Tempest analog drum machine (created by none other than the living legends Dave Smith and Roger Linn) is expected to be available sometime in Fall 2011.” – Sweetwater.com
This morning I’ve been playing with the newly released RealBeat. It’s for iOS AND Mac. Upon launching the app it has sequence blocks set up. You hit record on a few sample slots and everything starts playing. There are a few effects on Kaosillator type pads. You can edit the samples and sequences. RealBeat is a slick and fun audio app. What you hear above took less than a minute with my own voice. Recommended.
“Record your voice, your fridge, your neighbour’s dog or let your iPhone or iPad speak and make rhythms out of the sounds immediately. RealBeat concentrates on simplicity and fast results. No steep learning curve or cluttered screens! Get creative in an instant!” – apps.piringer.net
One of my favorite iOS music apps is sir Sampleton. It’s a pretty popular Sampler and drum machine. What I love about it is it’s simple and really fun. I just discovered another app which is very similar with even more quirk built in. Badlion’s Garage Synth gives you some drum loops, very analog synth presets and a weird selections of samples in slots. There’s also a tilt pitch feature. Beware if you’re at my next dinner party because I’m breaking this guy out.
“With Badlion’s Garage Synth anyone can be a musician. Just pick a beat and play some tunes over it, add some effects and you already have a hot track to listen to. Selectable keyboard – flash & rainbow / basic minimal. 48 beats – changeable volume and tempo. 8 samples – 4 octaves. 44 fx – loop or stop (once) functions. Tilt – you can pitch notes by tilting the phone.” – itunes.apple.com/the-badlions…